With over 1,000 pieces of anti-choice legislation introduced this year, it’s become more and more difficult for GOP members to stand by their claim that their war is not one against women. However, recent remarks by Texas GOP Representative Wayne Christian have cast a sobering, albeit refreshingly honest, light on the true incentive behind the bombardment of legislation. In a recent interview with NPR, Christian was asked if this was a war on birth control, to which he responded with a resounding “yes”, further disclosing that “this is a war on birth control and abortions and everything — that’s what family planning is supposed to be about.”
What Christian and other anti-choice legislators seem to be missing is the fact that making abortion illegal does not reduce the number of abortions. In fact, the legality of the procedure does not act as a deterrence, as abortions still occur at an equal rate in countries where abortion is legal and in countries where abortion is illegal. However, abortion poses a much greater risk to the woman when practiced in countries where abortion is illegal. According to recent research, almost 67,000 women die each year due to unsafe abortion practices, and the majority of these deaths occur in countries where abortion is illegal.
Furthermore, research by the Guttmacher Institute has shown that rates of abortion only decrease when contraception is made more widely available. But with the closing of Planned Parenthoods across the nation, and the decreased funding of other family planning clinics (including a loss of two-thirds of funding in Christian’s own state of Texas), women are not being given the opportunity to protect themselves against unwanted pregnancies. According to NPR, budget cuts to family planning clinics in Texas will leave 300,000 low-income women without health care and access to affordable birth control, and will likely result in 20,000 more unplanned pregnancies.
It’s become more and more evident that the fight for reproductive justice for all uterus-bearers is not over. Rather than choosing to ignore the influx of anti-choice legislation that has been happening at both the state and national level, I encourage everyone who cares about reproductive justice to take a stand and join the fight.
3 thoughts on “The War on Birth Control”
Thanks for synthesizing the war on choice. Your post makes me think of 2 things: 1. My grandma used to say there’s a reason why so many women died from appendicitis back in the day…and, 2. I can’t believe the irony of family planning being about restricting rights and legislating bodies. Why wouldn’t family planning revolve around making every child a wanted child? Again, thanks for posting about this!
I like the idea of making every child a wanted child, but I disagree that abortion is the way to go about it. Biologically, the fetus is already a child (unique human DNA, all signs of life, etc), but if its biological mother doesn’t want it killing it is hardly the answer. I believe adoption should be both promoted and simplified, to encourage more women facing unplanned pregnancies to choose “the loving option.”
Well, I’m glad we can agree that every child should be a wanted child. But I’m afraid that might be the only place we can come to an agreement. Like I said in the article, abortion rates decrease when contraception is made more widely available; making abortion illegal would not cause a drop in the number of women seeking abortions, and pushing adoption as another option still wouldn’t decrease the number of unplanned pregnancies.
Biologically speaking, almost 50% of embryos (because that’s what they’re called in the first twelve weeks) spontaneously abort within the first seven weeks, often before a woman even realizes she’s pregnant. This can occur because of natural problems, like hormonal imbalances or the fertilized egg failing to properly implant itself in the uterine lining. 88% of all abortions take place within the first twelve weeks of pregnancy.
I’m not sure when you think a fetus has “all signs of life”. In fact, it’s not until the end of the third month that an fetus even has all of its limbs and organs, and only 12% of abortions take place after this point. When they do occur, it’s typically because a) the fetus has a genetic abnormality that wouldn’t allow it to live outside of the womb, or b) carrying the fetus to term would put the mother’s life at risk. In fact, studies have shown that the fetus can’t even feel pain until its 29th week of development (and only 1.4% of abortions take place after the 21st week). And yes, while there is no way to absolutely prove fetuses don’t feel pain at this point, scientists agree that fetuses don’t feel pain within the first trimester.
Your tone in the statement “if its biological mother doesn’t want it, killing it is hardly the answer” makes women who seek abortions seem cold and calculating. This of course is probably an inference on my part, as I do not think you are a mean-hearted person. However, I know a lot of anti-choicers do seem to have this misconception of women who seek abortions, and I’d like to take this opportunity to address it. About 61% of women who seek abortions already have children. The vast majority of these women have an abortion because they fear not being able to provide for the children they already have, and considering 27% of abortion seekers live 100%-199% below the federal poverty line, it’s easy to understand that fear. For these women, terminating a pregnancy is “the loving option” for the children they already have.
Adoption is a solution to parenthood, not to pregnancy. To assume that a woman should be able to carry a child nine months and then give it up ignores the huge physical, financial, and mental tolls pregnancy can have a woman. If a woman works a minimum wage job with no sick leave, she can’t take time off for morning sickness. If she doesn’t have health care, she has to pay for prenatal appointments out-of-pocket. And if she does have the baby and chooses to give it up, she still has to take time off to recover from giving birth. Planned Parenthood provides affordable prenatal care for low-income women, but like I said in the article, funding cuts and closures across the nation make these services more and more difficult to come by.
Finally, let’s not pretend that women who chose to have an abortion are denying others the chance to be a parent. According to recent statistics, there are 115,000 adoptable children in the US foster care system, so there is no shortage of children waiting to be adopted.
Here’s what I think the pro-choice movement boils down to: People who identify as pro-choice acknowledge that what might be the best option for them might not be the best option for another person. If you believe that, in the case of an unplanned pregnancy, carrying the child to term is the best option for you, that’s completely fine (I personally think it’s impossible to tell what you would do in that situation until you’re actually in that situation), and no person has the right to make that decision for you– just like you have no right to tell another person what she should and shouldn’t do when faced with an unplanned pregnancy.
Abortion Statistics: http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/fb_induced_abortion.html
Fetal Development: http://www.babyzone.com/pregnancy/fetal_development/week/default.asp?week=2
Fetal Pain: http://www.nytimes.com/2005/08/24/health/24fetus.html?_r=3
Adoption Statistics: http://www.adoptuskids.org/resourceCenter/aboutTheChildren.aspx
And, if you’d like to learn more about all of the important services Planned Parenthood provides, and why it’s important to keep these clinics open, visit http://www.plannedparenthood.org/health-topics/index.htm